Table of Contents### Understanding Descriptive Statistics

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One of the goals of this book is to show you how to use formulas and functions to turn a jumble of numbers and values into results and summaries that give you useful information about the data. Excel's statistical functions are particularly useful for extracting analytical sense out of data nonsense. Many of these functions might seem strange and obscure, but they reward a bit of patience and effort with striking new views of your data.

This is particularly true of the branch of statistics known casually as descriptive statistics (or summary statistics). As the name implies, descriptive statistics are used to describe various aspects of a data set, to give you a better overall picture of the phenomenon underlying the numbers. In Excel's statistical repertoire, 16 measures make up its descriptive statistics package: sum, count, mean, median, mode, maximum, minimum, range, kth largest, kth smallest, standard deviation, variance, standard error of the mean, confidence level, kurtosis, and skewness.